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MR. 3000

About The Look And Design
To bring Stan Ross's second chance at love, baseball and becoming a better man to life in MR. 3000, director Charles Stone III wanted to forge a distinctive look that would be at once viscerally real and comically colorful. Noted for his visual energy, Stone collaborated closely with director of photography Shane Hurlbut (with whom he previously worked on "Drumline”) to search, in particular, for a new way to film baseball that would take audiences deeper inside the beloved American game.

"I wanted to infuse the baseball scenes with some of the mythology of baseball I fell in love with growing up,” explains Stone. "There's something really just primal and yet larger-than-life about a man battling adversity by dealing with a 90-plus-mile-an-hour ball coming at him with just a wooden bat in his hand. That was the vision I started with.”

To bring this vision to reality, Stone had long conversations with Hurlbut about how to get at what he calls "the kernel of visual truth” in baseball. "When Charles and I first sat down to talk about the look of the film, he told me he wanted to have the audience feel the dirt, feel the ball whizzing by their heads, feel the impact of the bat,” explains Hurlbut. "We wanted it to all really pop, to seem incredibly real, and to not look like anything you've seen before on screen.”

Hurlbut continues: "Charles and I started by looking at all the baseball movies that have ever been done and asking ourselves: what can we do that's different? We ended up going back to old-fashioned still photography that had been taken with long lenses because we were stunned by what they were able to capture. We decided that we would do the same thing – step back and shoot the action with cranes and really long lenses. This gave us very graphic wide angles and a sense of being ‘on the field,' which mixed with extreme close-up gave us a look that we hope is both original and full of emotional impact.”

As Stan moves from the glory of his early baseball days to the suburban banality of his ‘Mr. 3000' mall, Hurlbut also played with color. "The early baseball games are filled with explosive color,” he comments, "while we decided the games after his retirement would be more subdued and muted with very blue tones. Everything we did for the film was a very creative, collaborative process the whole way.”

Lighting was another challenge, with Hurlbut utilizing what he dubbed "the ring of fire” – a circle of 39 spotlights mounted atop the baseball stadium and capable of illuminating any part of the field at will. "This created a really stark, hot backlight to which was added a very beautiful soft key light on the actors in the scene,” he explains.

In a very rare concession, the Milwaukee Brewers allowed the MR. 3000 production to shoot two quick scenes between innings of an actual Brewers game. In both cases, the production had less than one minute to get the shot. "What an adrenaline rush that was,” comments first assistant director Doug Torres, who ran out onto the field with the director, the actor (in one case Brian White, in the other Bernie Mac) and a Steadi-cam crew for the "one-take only” shots. "Waiting in the dugout for our signal, my heart was pounding. After the final out, we rushed to home plate, did a quick set-up and rolled in just 45 seconds!”

The Brewers' cooperation also extended to pre-game warm-ups. In one case, the film's cast was invited to practice with the club just prior to a game against the Cincinnati Reds. Brewers' fans also lent their support, sticking around for hours after games to give the filmmakers ample opportunities to shoot wide-shots of a packed stadium. "One nice thing about using the home team of the stadium you're shooting in is that there's no need to

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